NORTH SALEM, N.Y.-The North Salem High School boys basketball team had an opportunity to make a statement last Thursday at Putnam Valley, but the home team came out on fire and rang up a 61-49 victory.

With the win, Putnam Valley (16–2) clinched the league 3E title.

The Tigers of Putnam Valley jumped out to a big 29-9 first-quarter lead.

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“They beat us twice and won the league title,” North Salem coach Henry Sassone said. “They jumped out on us early in the first quarter. We cut it to eight in the third, but we didn’t have quite enough to get back in.”

Sassone called it “a very physical game. We really didn’t come out ready to play, it’s hard to explain—I guess we got caught up in the moment.“

Kendrick Tchoua led North Salem with nine points and Ryan Donovan added eight points.

Saturday at home, the Tigers rebounded with a 91-40 roasting of Rye Neck.

Tchoua led North Salem (9–7) with 29 points in 16 minutes of play. The Tigers’ big man added 14 rebounds, two blocks, four assists and a steal. Kevin Ryan had 12 points, Donovan had 10 and Chris Alterio added nine.

“We came out and played pretty well,“ Sassone said. “Rye Neck was working hard, but we were just too big for them, and we shot the ball well—that was the difference.”

As the season winds down, Sassone feels his roster is rounding into playoff shape.

“We play 16 games, and we’ve had 11 starting lineups so far,“ he said. “I think we’re on to something now. We’re hoping to win all four games we have left, and we have a shot to be a four, five or six seed.“

North Salem was set to host league rival Haldane Wednesday, Feb. 7, and will travel to Pawling for a 6 p.m. game Friday. The Tigers, who are in Class B, travel to Alexander Hamilton Saturday at 4 p.m. for a rematch of last year‘s Class C title game.